The Early Days: Gor was born with the name of Nattawud Daoruang on 3rd July 1985 in Samut Prakan, about 35 kms south of Bangkok. Gor’s father worked in the navy dockyard. His mother worked at a local factory. During his kindergarten and primary school years he attended the prestigious Sriwittayapkanam School. Gor was lucky because at that time the government were heavily subsidising school education for children of government employees. Gor excelled at his studies and soon found himself in the class for gifted students. He loved playing basketball and was an avid fan of Liverpool. His other hobbies included playing Thai chess and reading cartoon books. When he was 12 years old he started learning English with me and shortly after, he started work on his first web site.
The Middle Years: In May 1998, Gor started at his new school, Satree Samutprakan. Even though he had left my school, he still often returned with his friends to learn English with me and also to work on his web sites. By this time he had already started on two more web sites for movies and cartoon books. He told me that the teachers at his new school weren’t interested in what he was doing and that they also didn’t know that he was fluent in English. With class sizes of 56 it was easy for him to get lost in the system. Gor was already famous due to his thailandlife.com website. In the year 2000, he was featured in the Bangkok Post three times and in The Nation once. He was also interviewed by Student Weekly and was named “Student of the Month”. Other newspapers from around the world also called to interview him.
Starting from when he was 13, he used to help teach students how to make web sites. It was during one of these weekly lessons that he met his future girlfriend – the one he called his first “true love”. Her name was Yui. The ups and downs of this courtship are documented in his online Secret Diary. Their relationship started to get more serious when she went to study at his high school in May 1999. Everyone could see that he loved her very much. By the following month they were sneaking out of school in order to go back to Gor’s house while his parents weren’t there. Things escalated from there. Gor later wrote in the Bangkok Post that his mistake was to do too much too soon. Although he enjoyed himself very much, their relationship later became very stormy. They broke up a number of times but they always came back together. Gor took it pretty hard when they broke up for the final time on his 15th birthday in early July 2000.
He started smoking, drinking and he pierced his ear and naval and died his hair. He also had a string of girlfriends, though none of them meant anything to him. He was just using them to hide his pain. He also mixed more with the “bad friends” his ex-girlfriend didn’t approve off. Despite the “bad boy” image that he was projecting, he was still good at heart and continued to work hard on his web sites. He also helped me set up an online bookstore. The websites were probably the only thing that kept him going. However, the life he was now leading ultimately led him down the road to drug addiction. He first experimented with drugs during the summer holidays in late March 2001. He was still 15.
The Dark Years: I first found out about his experimenting with drugs in April of that year. I think we were in Lopburi at that time taking pictures for his website about Thailand. Gor was already very famous by this time. Certainly the most well known Thai teenager on the Internet. Although he was already documenting his life in great detail, I felt that I should do some in-depth interviews with him about his teenage years. It was at the back of my mind that he would use these notes later in life to write an autobiography. We were just brainstorming some topics for the interview when he blurted out that he had been experimenting with drugs. So, that became the first part of a series of ten interviews which covered a period of about seven months.
Although Gor had told me that he had been experimenting with drugs I wasn’t too worried. He had assured me that he knew it was wrong and that he wouldn’t be trying it again. School re-opened a few weeks later and I thought everything would be alright for him now. However, he stopped coming to work on his websites after school. It didn’t really concern me as I knew what it was like for teenagers and their friends. They just want to hang around together after school. Anyway, at that time I was busy with my own projects at the school. Then, one day in June he suddenly turned up and he looked really bad. He confessed that he had now become addicted to drugs but he really wanted to quit. He begged me to help him and made me promise that I would support him whatever happened next. Little did I knew where that would lead or how big a commitment it would turn out to be.
The following seven months are well documented in the Drug Interviews. You can find these at www.ThaiDrugAddict.com. I would like to add that these interviews give an impression that those seven months were all about drugs and nothing else. That is not entirely true. He did continue working on his thailandlife.com website which at that time was receiving about 3,000 unique visitors per day. He was documenting every aspect of his life which visitors to his site were finding fascinating. He was also helping me with my online book store (he would later become the shop manager) and also helping me teach some classes. Later that same year he was also approached by the Bangkok Post to write a column for their newspaper. At 16 he became their youngest regular columnist.
See: Gor’s World